Women who spend time in nature live longer, study finds
Attention women of America: It’s time to head into the woods, or at the very least invest in a few new houseplants.
According to a study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Brigham and Women's Hospital, women — more specifically, American women — whose homes are surrounded by lush plant life have a significantly lower mortality rate than women who don’t live among greenery.
The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that women who lived in the greenest surroundings had a 12 percent lower mortality rate than those living amongst less vegetation. These associations, according to the study’s conclusion, were strongest for respiratory and cancer-related deaths. The researchers found that women who live amongst plant life and spend time in nature have a 13 percent lower rate of cancer deaths and a 34 percent lower rate of respiratory-related deaths.
The study, which used data from 108,630 women across the United States from 2000 to 2008, also found that mental health improved remarkably for women immersed in nature. They linked outdoor time to increased social engagement and physical activity.
"We were surprised to observe such strong associations between increased exposure to greenness and lower mortality rates," Peter James, research associate in the Harvard Chan School Department of Epidemiology, told Town and Country. "We were even more surprised to find evidence that a large proportion of the benefit from high levels of vegetation seems to be connected with improved mental health."
Beyond the positive benefits to women’s mental and physical health, planting flowers, trees, and more in and around your home, the researchers added, also reduces wastewater loads and mitigates the effects of climate change. So perhaps the health benefits of planting seeds is just Mother Nature’s way of thanking you.